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Math vs. Maths

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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If you ever got into contact with the word "mathematics", you have certainly also seen at least one of the nouns from the pair "math" and "maths". But which one is correct? How do you spell it shortly, "math" or "maths"? Let's take a quick look upon this linguistic confusion to make sure you get it right.

Math vs. Maths

Both "math" and "maths" are abbreviations for the word "mathematics", the complex science that studies numbers and shapes. We can't claim that any of these abbreviated forms is right or wrong, because they are just shorter versions for the full noun ("mathematics"). Whether you prefer adding the last "s" or not is a matter of personal choice and culture, according to how you've been educated in school and how you have seen it spelled more frequently.

There are, anyway, some statistics that show how often "math" and "maths" are used. It turns out that, just as it happens for other pairs of words that differ through only one letter, the frequency of use regarding the different abbreviations differs from British to Americans. Here's how:

When do we use "maths"?

"Maths" is the abbreviation preferred by the British. In the UK, they say that "mathematics" ends in "s" and so should its short form. It's more likely that if you ask a British person, they would tell you they prefer "maths" as they have seen it spelled like this all the time.

When do we use "math"?

"Math" is preferred by the Americans, not only because they usually go for the shorter forms, but also because they consider "mathematics" is a mass noun that takes singular verbs and should, therefore, be abbreviated without the "s" in the end.


"Math" and "maths" are not complete words on their own and. As abbreviations, they can't be considered wrong or right. Choosing a form will be partially influenced by your personal choice and logic, and partially by the region where you've learned to spell it. British use "maths" more often and Americans prefer "math", but this does not define any rule for correct spelling.

Math vs. Maths

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  • Matt Hias
    Matt Hias
    Not correct.
    A contraction or abbreviation which finishes in the last letter of the full word does not require a qualification in the form of a period (full stop).

    Therefore Maths is correct.

    Math. Is correct.

    Math is incorrect.

    As this rule is most common in the US, it logically follows, that those who use the term Math. the most should follow it.
    LikeReply 12 years ago
    • Felicity Chevalier
      Felicity Chevalier
      are there any other examples of this? it seems to be a single use case scenario, where mathematics is somewhat unique in being an endless plural form with an s at the end where other examples (politics) will get shortened to pol or pol. and not pols

      An exception seems arbitrary.
      LikeReply2 years ago
    • Matt Hias
      Matt Hias
      Felicity Chevalier.
      Pol is incorrect.
      Math is incorrect.
      Pol. Is correct.
      Math. Is correct.

      It’s not arbitrary.
      LikeReply2 years ago
    • talorc_m
      absolutely correct Maths is the proper abbreviation , having said that North Americans are still infants as far as using the English language goes , they can't even spell words right yet.
      LikeReply 110 months ago
    • NUFC1892
      i agree, also americans cant really pronounce things right and always sound weird when trying to say towns or cities in the UK. Another thing is why they seem to think there is such a thing called American English when there is no such thing, it's English not American English or not British English and we invented the language so we are correct every time!  
      LikeReply 13 months ago
  • Donald Edwards
    Donald Edwards
    Also, if you are an American working at NPR always add the "s" as a sophisification signifier.
    LikeReply 53 years ago
    • STANDS4
      Good point, Donald!
      LikeReply 23 years ago


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